Thursday, August 23, 2018

If you’ve spent years in the rat race, working a job you hate to survive, you know the incremental frustration that builds up week upon week, month upon month and year upon year. You know how spirit crushing it can be to slave away in a boring, repetitive and meaningless job while the skills you spent your formative years developing go to waste. This isn’t the adulthood you were sold. You were told that all of your hard work, study and endeavor would pay off. Yet here you are, years later, spending 8-12 hours a day in a cubicle under fluorescent lighting wondering if anyone even knows you’re there.

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Yet all this living death is almost worth it when you’re able to shake of the shackles of corporate wage suppression and the anaesthesia of the 9 to 5 (or increasingly, 8 to 6) and go into business for yourself. If you’ve recently begun freelancing it can be extremely intoxicating being able to make a living doing something you love and working on your own terms. Just make sure that, in lieu of a payroll department, you’re honoring your tax commitments. Running afoul of the IRS could not only be damaging to your reputation, it could see you stuck with a hefty fine that could seriously cripple your operation. 

Here are some things you need to know about tax and your freelance business...

Even if you only freelance as a side hustle, it’s still taxable income

Many freelancers begin their career as a side hustle in their free time so that they can build their experience and establish a healthy client base while still enjoying the steady income from your day job. Just keep in mind that even if you’re side hustling the income from your business is still taxable and must be declared. Even a small amount needs to be declared to the IRS. The rule of thumb is, if in doubt, always declare. The IRS is far more lenient with those who are open and honest with them. 

Invest in an accountant

Even if you have a good working understanding of how to fill out your tax returns, it’s still advisable to invest in an accountant. Sure, they may represent a significant overhead, but they provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing your accounts are in safe hands. A good accountant will also generally save you more than they cost.

Accounting for your earnings

Needless to say, if the IRS is to accurately gauge your income, it’s your responsibility to keep an accurate record of your earnings and that means keeping an up to date account of your invoices. If any labor you undertake is of a casual nature and your client is unable to validate your invoice, use this paystub generator. An accurate and up to date account of your earnings is essential to keep the IRS on side. 

Keep track of your expenses

Finally, it’s important to remember that you are taxed not on your earnings but on your profits. Thus, it’s essential that you keep an up to date record of all expenses incurred throughout the running of your business. An accountant is especially useful here as they may be able to help you get a clear picture of what can and can’t be claimed for business purposes. 

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